LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have been on a tear in the second half, but center fielder Matt Kemp has been reduced to a spectator and is looking forward to getting back on the field, whenever his sprained left ankle allows.
Kemp has played just one game since the All-Star break, when he returned from the disabled list July 21 against Washington and had a home run and three RBIs before spraining his ankle in an awkward slide at the plate in the ninth inning. He hasn't played since and is on the DL for the third time this year.
"I can't complain, I can only get better," said Kemp, who has been limited to 62 games this season.
The Dodgers entered Wednesday night's game 22-3 after the break. They are 39-8 since June 22, the best record in the Major Leagues during that span, though Kemp has played only 11 of those games.
"It's always tough to watch a team do good when you want to be a part of it," Kemp said Wednesday. "I'm a part of it, but I would like to be a part of it on the field. But it's good to know that the team is doing good when people go down. It shows what kind of team we have and how good we can be."
Kemp took live batting practice at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday afternoon and did some light agility drills in the outfield. But his ankle still appears to bother him, and there is no set timetable for a Minor League rehab assignment.
"It feels better and better every day, ankles just take time," Kemp said. "My ankle will let me know when it's time to do a rehab assignment and go out there and be ready to play."
Kemp wants to return to the field and help out this team because he knows how good the Dodgers can be.
"The last three years have been disappointing for us, we haven't made the playoffs and we've had really good teams," he said. "But this year, this team is special."
Hanley returns to lineup from shoulder injury
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez returned to the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right shoulder Aug. 4 in Chicago. Ramirez scored a run and had two hits, including a double, in the Dodgers' 5-4 walk-off victory against the Mets in 12 innings.
Ramirez was ready to play Tuesday, but the Dodgers waited to start him until Wednesday's series finale against the Mets because the club is off Thursday, which will allow the Dodgers' medical staff to evaluate how Ramirez's shoulder responds.
"We're going to be able to see how everything reacts after a game, so we'll know how to work going forward," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
Ramirez injured his shoulder chasing a popup into the stands at Wrigley Field and was reduced to one pinch-hit appearance on Friday before Wednesday's start.
"He's good, he's ready to go," Mattingly said. "He's been wanting to play for two days now."
The Dodgers went 8-1 with Ramirez sidelined, as Nick Punto filled in at shortstop and drove in six runs in seven games. Dee Gordon started the other two games at short.
Ramirez has been limited to 55 games this season, hitting .359 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. He's also missed time because of offseason surgery on his right thumb and a hamstring issue.
Ethier cracks pinch-HR after avoiding scare
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier was not in the Dodgers' starting lineup Wednesday night because of a left calf issue, but he delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game before the Dodgers went on to beat the Mets, 5-4, in 12 innings.
Ethier's third career pinch-hit homer carried over the left-field fence, a rare feat late at night at Dodger Stadium.
"I knew I hit it well, but here at night to the opposite field, not too many lefties hit balls out that way," he said. "I was looking for the left fielder to catch it against the wall. I put a good swing on it."
Ethier had a scare Tuesday when his left calf was still badly bruised and sore -- nine days after he was hit by a pitch on the calf -- and was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, doctors ruled out a blood clot, and Ethier hopes to return to the starting lineup Friday in Philadelphia.
"They ruled out a blood clot and that was the main worry, because all of a sudden it came back and was throbbing," Dodgers manager Mattingly said Wednesday. "He's gotten a lot better today."
Ethier's calf has bothered him since Aug. 4, when he was hit by a pitch against the Cubs.
The Dodgers are off Thursday and hope to have Ethier back in the lineup Friday in the opener of a three-game series against the Phillies. He's been the club's most durable outfielder, playing in 115 games.
Wilson could join Dodgers 'pen on road trip
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Wilson is likely to join the Dodgers' bullpen during the team's upcoming road trip, possibly as soon as Friday.
Wilson fired 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a Minor League rehab appearance Tuesday with Triple-A Albuquerque. The right-hander has allowed just one hit in four rehab appearances between Triple-A and Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
"All the reports are good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday.
But Mattingly would not reveal the club's plans for Wilson, only saying there was a chance Wilson would join the team during a seven-game road trip that begins Friday in Philadelphia.
"When we bring him up, we'll let you know," Mattingly said. "I don't think we're willing to really talk about anything with Brian as far as what is going to happen and what we're going to do."
Does that mean Wilson is not ready to pitch in the Major Leagues?
"I didn't say he wasn't ready," the manager said.
Does Wilson need to make another rehab appearance in the Minors?
"I can't say that," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers would need to make room for Wilson on the roster whenever they decide to activate the reliever, and there are a few scenarios for that to happen.
The bullpen has been superb lately, so the club might not want to make a roster move with a reliever. Chris Withrow has options, but he's been solid and has earned Mattingly's praise.
Dee Gordon has options, and the Dodgers could option the shortstop to Triple-A if management is convinced Hanley Ramirez (sore shoulder) would be able to play on a regular basis. Ramirez started Wednesday for the first time since he injured his shoulder Aug. 4, and the Dodgers medical staff will use a day off Thursday to evaluate how Ramirez's shoulder responds to playing.
"We've talked about different scenarios, but they are fluid," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers signed Wilson, 31, as a free agent on July 30. The former Giants closer has not pitched in the Major Leagues since he had Tommy John surgery in April 2012.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.